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Keith_ted
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Dale Sveum
Dale Sveum led Mikwaukee in just 12 regular-season games.
AP

In 2009, Dale Sveum will undoubtedly be the best manager masquerading as a hitting coach in baseball. He also may be the best manager over a 12-game career in baseball history. How can we be so sure? Because Dale Sveum actually got a vote for National League Manager of the Year on Wednesday.

Each of the other 13 managers who received at least one vote will be back shepherding their teams again next season. But Sveum will be a hitting coach. For the Brewers. The team that he led (sort of) to the playoffs. The team that didn't want him back as manager.

Most managers who are good enough to receive consideration for Manager of the Year are good enough to be brought back the next season (Joe Girardi excepted). Certainly they should be good enough to be given more than 12 games to see if they are cut out for managing.

What does it say about the Brewers -- and about Sveum as a manager -- that Milwaukee's front office felt comfortable entrusting him with the team as it threatened to careen off a cliff, but not comfortable enough to let him try his hand at it over a full season?

In the broadest sense, Sveum did exactly what he was supposed to do: get the Brewers to the playoffs. He prevented a collapse for the second straight season that would have prolonged Milwaukee's playoff drought, leading to a spike in beer sales and causing free-agent-to-be CC Sabathia to take the first plane out of town without giving Miller Park a glance over his sizable shoulder.

On the other hand, it's hard to say just how much credit Sveum actually deserves for those 12 games. When he took over for Ned Yost on September 15, the Brewers had already played 150 games. They were tied for the NL wild-card lead. They immediately proceeded to lose four of their first five games under Sveum. His signature move when he took over was to make Mike Cameron the leadoff hitter. Cameron batted .204 from that spot in '08 with zero home runs, four RBIs and a .283 on-base percentage.

Only the schedule (a three-game homestand with the woeful Pirates that the Brewers swept to revive their season), some charitable player moves by Cubs manager Lou Piniella in the season-ending three-game series and the Mets choke job (part deux) landed the Brewers in a position they had not been since 1982: the postseason. Given those circumstances, it's entirely possible the Brewers would have gotten there anyway under Yost.

Even Sveum seemed to know he would not deserve the credit for anything positive that happened. "I'm not going to sit here and say I can make any difference," he said on the day he took over. To at least one person out there with a vote, he did.

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